Date: July 27, 2019 12:19AM
I know a little bit about this topic, but don't want to say who I am because I am well known in the Polynesian culture. Over the years, I have been giving this topic a lot of thought.
There are a number of reasons why they are attracted and stay in the church. Many of those ideas have been mentioned here, but I will try to give some insider nuances on the subject.
First of all, they have a very strong patriarchal culture, just like the church. Men rule, and women and children follow unconditionally. If someone is perceived as the leader or has some standing (such as age; you only have to be one day older to rule over younger cultural members), then they are given all respect. Leaders in the church and leaders of the people are spoiled, and it's seen as a cultural positive to sacrifice for any leader, even giving up your own basics of survival to the leader or church. You can be berated, shunned, or assaulted for not showing proper deference. Women and children are not as important as men or boys, and there is a double-standard. Women and children can be abused, just like in the Mormon church. Although, I will admit Polynesian abuse is probably less sexual and more physical than for white members.
Their deference to authority can been seen in this clip about the Tongan legend of kava and what it represents. They have a strong sense of authoritarianism, believing in strong, punishing leaders and parents. Sound familiar? Careful, not the faint of heart: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnrN6im5c4E
They believe they are special, as another poster noted. Along with being a warrior culture, which they strongly admire, they believe they are god's chosen people. They see themselves as more righteous, saved-away from the rest of the world until now. Palangis had the gospel first, and as servants, or stewards of the gospel, brought it to the islands, where it rightfully belonged. Of course, the BOM and church leaders like SWK, DOM, and Groberg have been blowing that smoke up their collective asses for decades, which doesn't help with the self-delusion.
They believe they have a superior culture and race, that they are more virtuous, righteous, self-sacrificing, loyal, royal, physically strong and beautiful. White Mormons, intrigued with the exoticism of the culture, are all too willing to inflate their egos, just as Ploynesians inflate the egos of the white Mormons. Quid pro quo. Maybe it's because Native Americans were slow to accept the Lamanite label, while Polynesians embraced it. It reinforced the testimonies of white Mormons when some group was willing to accept Mormon pseudo-history. Actually, rather than Lamanites, many feel they are true Nephites (see the story of Hagoth in the BOM).
Along with white Mormons, there is a tendency to look down on other races, including whites. They are anti-miscegenation as many Mormon still are, but were particularly 20 or more years ago. Mormon doctrine gives an excuse for believing this way. I have witnessed Polynesians be particularly derogatory to blacks and Mexicans, even though they don't admit it. You have to be part of the culture to hear it.
They are strong believers in the supernatural (superstitious, if you want). They are strong believers that god is personally intervening in their lives. If you are ill or deformed, you have sinned. If you are rich, famous, or respected, you are a special child of god, and god spends his time clearing your way in life. Their stories of suffering and religious pilgrimage mirrors the stories of white pioneers, so there is a shared bond.
Finally, they are very communal just as Mormons are, and once were fanatical about. Everything is for the community. One gives and gives and gives. The sign of wealth is not how much you accumulate, but how much you give. Communal culture means that you think with one mind and believe with one heart, just like the Mormon ideal. Individualistic members are shunned. This creates an environment of suppressing individual thought and ambition. Since culture and church are wedded, it's nearly impossible to break away, which is why so many of them stay.
This post might sound somewhat derogatory, but I have every right to speak honestly since I am part of the culture. There are great things on the horizon for the Polynesian people. The culture won't stay Mormon forever. The Polynesian culture has many positive aspects about it, and this will be their way out. Polynesians tend to be early adapters, hardworking and education-seeking because they give deference to learning. They have been assimilating quickly into American culture, becoming more educated and prosperous than their first-generation parents. Education is important for leaving the fold because it breaks down communal culture, allowing for individuals to become independent. It creates natural associations and interactions with other cultures, allowing the benefits of a multi-cultural society to become obvious. It destroys superstition.
In a very short time, I have seen Polynesians leaving the church and becoming secular. They hate being lied to and having their culture hijacked by frauds. A good number have left, but once it hits critical mass, I predict they will leave in higher percentages than do other Mormons.